Archive for September 17th, 2011


Using the right word MATTERS: An English teacher’s rant

This afternoon, I was doing some work for my ongoing horror movie project, which included a quick stop-in at, specifically the entry for John Carpenter’s 1978 classic Halloween. While I was reading, I noticed some unusual wording in the synopsis…

The first flick in the trilogy from director John Carpenter, Halloween almost single-handedly invented the 1980s slasher genre…

I read this a couple of times just to make sure I understood it correctly. “Trilogy?” The Halloween trilogy? What on Earth is GetGlue talking about? Who wrote this?

By what possible definition is the Halloween series a trilogy?

Now I admit, I’m a little more anal about my use of the term “trilogy” than most people are. To most people — and to the dictionary — any series of three can rightly be called a trilogy. Personally, I prefer only using the term for a story conceived to be told in three parts, rather than a series that happens to stop after the third installment. So by my definition, the Lord of the Rings series is a true trilogy, whereas the Blade series — to give just one example — is not. And yes, we can start splitting hairs about The Hobbit and whether it counts as part of the LOTR series or as a separate but related story or whatever. That’s not the point. The point is whether you’re as obnoxious about what you call a trilogy as I am or whether you  just go by the accepted definition, there is no way to count Halloween as a trilogy.

  • Number of Halloween movies, as of this writing: 10.
  • Number of Halloween films made with the involvement of John Carpenter: 2
  • Number of Halloween films made starring the character of Michael Myers: 9
  • Number of Halloween films, excluding the remakes and the weird part III, which doesn’t really count: 7
  • Number of Halloween films made before any sort of “reboot” was instituted: 5 (1, 2, 4, 5, 6)
  • Number of Halloween films that ostensibly follow Jamie Lee Curtis’s Laurie Strode character: 4 (1, 2, 7, 8 )
  • Number of Halloween films in the reboot-remake series: 2
The point is, even if this entry had been written after only three Halloween films had been made (back in 1982, when GetGlue wasn’t yet as popular as it is now), that sentence STILL makes no sense, because Carpenter had no involvement whatsoever in the third one.
So the English teacher in me has a plea for all of you: think a little bit before you start writing things. A “trilogy” is not the same thing as a “franchise” or a “series” or an “array of miniature porcelain ponies.” It actually has a specific definition that would be very grateful to you if you would use it properly.
On behalf of the English language, I thank you for your time.

September 2011

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